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Borrowing from the start-up world, I’ve been trying to implement the One Metric That Matters (OMTM) approach with the charities I work with and their digital operations and campaigns. The biggest value I’ve seen with focusing on the OMTM is that it forces you to decide on what is most important (can’t be everything) and that helps you stay focused over time (not chasing everything). I’ll share more on the OMTM’s latter but for now, I want to share a 5 reasons why you should care more about retention and how it might just be the best OMTM for fundraising programs.

This is even more relevant given some of the sobering statistics coming out about how bad the charitable sector is, by and large, in keeping the donors they have. So without further ado here are…

5 Reasons Why You Should Care More About Retention

1. YOU’LL CARE MORE & TELL BETTER STORIES.

If you want to keep them around, you have to thank them more, meet their needs more directly and above all show what you’ve done with their donations in the form of impact. Retention is about trust and doing all you can to build it up. In building your organization around building donor trust you’ll become more transparent, responsive to donor needs and focus more on measuring impact. All good things.

2. RETAINED DONORS CAN HELP YOU ACQUIRE TOO.

If you have a core of retained donors that are starting to trust your organization and have seen the impact you’ve made over a series of years they are much more likely to talk positively about you, invite their friends to events and even start fundraising for you and asking their networks to make donations. This can help solve the “acquisition problem” for you in an extremely cost-effective manner especially with all the social fundraising tools becoming available… like email…

3. IT’S COST EFFECTIVE.

The old adage of “it’s cheaper to keep a customer than acquire a new one” is true with fundraising from both a cost, time and resource perspective. With more and more charities to choose from it is getting harder and harder to stand out and acquire a new donor so if you are able to connect with some new people it behooves you, purely on resources, to keep them around.

4. RETAINED DONORS GIVE MORE.

There is huge business value in retaining donors. Not just in that you don’t have to spend resources acquiring new donors (costly) and spend fewer resources to keep donors (generally) but retained donors generally give more and increase their giving over time as they trust you more and you get to know them more.

5. YOU CAN TAKE MORE RISKS.

I wish charities could be more risky to raise more money, increase their impact and just overall focus on innovation but I understand many of the reasons they cannot. One of them is how they would explain it to their donors if costs go up, something doesn’t work, etc. Retained donors have more trust built up and will give organizations a longer leash allowing decision makers more freedom to try new things that can lead to greater growth and impact.

If you don’t track retention rates you should. If you do, move it up in importance. If it’s at the top of the list already… share this post.

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